Merry Christmas Sweetie! I Got You… Nothing.

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Well, it’s official. My wife and I didn’t get each other anything for Christmas. For one, we were too busy buying gifts for others and trying to get our handmade holiday cards out on time. (Okay, she was too busy with all that. I was just a slacker.) We had the following conversation about 10 times while shopping for stuff:

What do you want for Christmas?

Nothing. What do you want?


Okay, I’m getting you nothing then.

Okay. You too.


Not that we are being especially frugal or eco-friendly or whatever, we just have too much stuff coming in from other folks as it is. Is that weird? I always thought it was a bit funny for wives and husbands to buy each other large gifts. Like how Lazy Man explores those Lexus commercials where the husband surprises the wife with a brand-new car.

If you use the “one-pot” method of managing married finances, doesn’t it just end up as you spending each other’s money without permission? Or it simply “letting up” when you usually would be like “heck no, you’re not buying that!” Anyhow, I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays and all the wonderful things out there that can’t fit in a box.

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  1. weirdo!


  2. I understand the whole “don’t spend money on your spouse” thing for Christmas in certain situations. But still, it’s Christmas, I hope you at least did something that doesn’t involve money — like a hand written card to her, for instance, or a “coupon” for a romantic night together or etc.

    Merry Christmas! Love the blog….

  3. If only that worked on my parents. They won’t get me nothing, so I have to tell them something or risk getting something I’d never use.

    I’m surprised you didn’t get each other gift cards.

  4. Mike – You’re right, I should show appreciation in another way. I’m just going to hide it in an non-Hallmark holiday so she won’t see it coming!

    yd – Nah, we’d just give each other cash ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Funny, my parents don’t get me anything unless I ask either. So I haven’t gotten anything for the last two years. This year they finally just gave me something without telling me.

  5. Clicked on Publish too soon, had some more edits to make to the post.

  6. We don’t exchange gifts either. We’d rather just buy what we want throughout the year.

  7. For several years, my girlfriend and I have not given each other presents, but instead give the money to a charity. We certainly don’t need anything else, and so many others do.

  8. For a minute there, I thought I was the only one.

    There seems to be too much marketing. Don’t get me wrong. I like the spirit of giving. But do you know how much money and time is spent wrapping presents only to have it throw out in minutes? The best gift is the gift of time.

  9. Honest Dollar says

    My boyfriend and I didn’t get anything for each other either. I made him a mushroom omelet today, and he took me to his parents’ for dinner. Then we spent some time playing on the Wii. It was far more lovely than any material gift would have been. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Honest Dollar says

    Oh, but I should add that, like you, we actually discussed not getting each other anything. I wouldn’t recommend unilaterally not getting your significant other a gift, because you might be out one significant other.

  11. Isn’t that a being bit too cheap? Don’t you even have/get the “feeling” of giving? This is just plain weird.

  12. Agg, what? Nothing?

    I agree that the Lexus commercial is pretty dumb (surprise honey, we’re in debt!). But there are tons of ways “around” this.

    Hand-made cards, gifts of time (the classic IOU coupon book), or even just splitting out a budget for buying each other something. “Here honey, we each have $200, let’s go find something” (your number may vary).

    Even though it’s “our money”, my fianc? and I still got each other gifts. I found her a special graphic novel that I had imported from Australia. The point wasn’t the spending of money, it was the gift finding and the surprise.

    For most of us well above the poverty line, the gift of “time” is more important than the money aspect. Heck, when you’re making $25/hour (or $50 like Jonathan), buying a $20 DVD isn’t the big deal, spending 2 hours finding and wrapping that DVD is the more valuable component. Maybe it’s just a spousal training thing, but my fianc? appreciates the whole time/money continuum, so time-related gifts are just as important and money-related gifts (b/c time == money).

  13. I think your idea blows. Sorry to be blunt.

    I love my wife, and I’d like to think she loves me. Gift giving is NOT random boxes thrown under a tree, but a process that involves thought.

    I use the opportunity to show my wife that I understand what makes her happy. This year I bought her 3 trees to plant. I bought her earings – she would never buy that for herself.

    She bought me a nice set of clippers for my nails. And a few books that I find very interesting, but simply haven’t wanted to splurge on.

    Yeah … DOnna says she buys whatever she wants throughout the year … we do, too.

    Bottom line is that it’s not the material/monetary value of the item(s), but the fact that someone sees what makes you happy, and accentuates it with a simple gift showing their understanding of it. I’m very touched when my wife has thought so much about giving me a gift. Money has no bearing. I think you’re thinking too much about it. Lighten up and realize that a gift exchange is not about money, but about how you can show someone that you understand them and appreciate them and want to help them.

  14. Well, this does not sound weird to me. I could not even meet him on Christmas. As far as gifts are concerned guys I am not so materialistic. Rather than enjoying gifts I would love my near and dear ones spending time with me. That is what we lack. TIME. There is no better present than spending quality time which we are losing out in this fast hectic world.

  15. Ditto. My wife and I buy each other a card at Xmas. We pretty much buy what we want if we need something during the rest of the yeat

  16. Ditto here too.

    The greatest gift I can think of for Christmas is not spending more money. & maybe that is part of it, we look at our money as one. I’ve been way more down on the gift thing since going down to 1 income. We are more stressed about money, and there is something much less exciting about paying for my own gifts. When the kids are older and we have more room, that’s fine. But for now, I don’t want to waste money on that stuff.

    Plus, there really is nothing we want for.

    Works for us. I am not sure when buying an obligatory gift on a holiday did anything for our marriage. We buy each other plenty of gifts when we feel like it throughout the year. We do plenty of nice things for each other too, just because. But I can’t say we did squat for each other yesterday and we are both just fine with that.

  17. sandycheeks says

    We didn’t exchange gifts either. Dh filled our stocking with a few household items we needed (pizza cutter, ice cream scoop) so the kids wouldn’t question why Santa didn’t leave us anything and we’ll go out to eat as a treat. But no surprise wrapped gifts or anything. It just doesn’t fit into our financial plan right now.

  18. I have been married for over 15 years and we never gave any material things for Christmas to each other. I so so much don’t care for material things.. and my husband doesn’t care even more… It doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. There are so many things you CAN GIVE to your spouse other than THINGS.. Just think what he (she) appreciates the most from you…

    My DH love the most when I simply sit down and talk to him. Yeaaaa… I think if I just sit with him for the whole day, ( I WISH) that would be the best present he ever got from me. (Note to myself, why can’t you sit down??? Um, I have Adult ADD, it is hard for me to sit down for a long time…. LOL)

  19. My wife and I do not exchange gifts for Christmas. We only do birthdays and anniversaries. We just decided it was money better spent on other things that we need.

  20. This is actually the first year my wife and I did not exchange gifts. I agree that it seems rather pointless. If one of us really wants something we can talk about it and buy it- we don’t need a holiday for that. Also, we get lots of gifts from family and friends so we really aren’t missing out on anything anyway.

  21. Ted Valentine says

    We do stockings for each other. Its fun to give and get small stuff. We a lot a small budget each for them.

  22. My wife and I do not exchange gifts either. We usually take a trip once per year to Walt Disney World, so this is gift enough. The past two years we have not done a gift exchange with our family to save money. This year we did do a gift exchange with our parents, but we drew names and we did set a budget on how much we spend. We all had a nice time, but probably could have done with out the gifts.

    Check out this website that I found called The Story of Stuff. It really makes you think twice before buying too much stuff!

  23. My wife and I spent about 25 bucks on each other this year. We were still able to be thoughtful while not spending a ton of cash.

  24. We didn’t get each other anything either. We have 2 children, so we focus on them. We also tell our families to not get us anything, only for the children and that has been our tradition now for a few years. I will make my husband his favorite dinner tonight and he’ll give me a massage- better than any money can buy.
    Merry Christmas and hope your New Year is a great one.

  25. I took the time to select a bunch of photos from the 1000s we have of our 1 year daughter and made a photo album with those little bubble conversations.

    Again, cost more time than anything…but was something that just wasn’t getting done. I try to think of an annoying chore or task, anything that is stressing my wife and solve it.

    Might be sending a note to a friend that she wants to get a hold of but never makes the arrangement so I set up a lunch for her and her friend. Time is the best.

    Best wishes to all

  26. My wife and I limit ourselves to 1 small gift for each other each year at X-mas. We used to buy each other several gifts, but we have come to realize that we’d rather focus on having a nice time with each other than go through the stress of all the shopping for items that we don’t really need.

    Just because everyone else is doing it (going into consumer over-drive during the holidays) doesn’t mean it makes sense, but I wouldn’t want to skip the gift-giving completely.

  27. Yeah….that just sounds cheap as hell to me. It’s nice to show affection through presents at times. Even if the costs comes from the same “pot”

  28. Jon, I am with you!! In lieu of presents, my sister and brother-in-law take a nice vacation. We’re going on one next month. So, this was the first year we didn’t buy gifts for each other. We made a pact that we weren’t buying gifts for the grown-ups and only buy presents for the kids. It was such a relief!

  29. The one-pot does make it kind of pointless to buy gifts. However, we do try to focus on things that mostly productive with a couple of fun things built in. The idea is that we’ve been wanting to get some of these things for some time anyway, but have been procrastinating asking ourselves if we really NEED the purchase.

  30. That’s why instead of buying expensive Lexus type gifts from the same money pot, you give gifts that although might not necessarily have monetary value, but have substantial emotional and personal worth!

  31. Instead of buying hundreds of dollars in gifts for all my friends this year, I decided that I’m just going to make dinner for everyone.

    I had no time for shopping and I don’t have much money?I used my credit cards a lot last year for gifts…not gonna do that again. I wasn’t really raised around Christmas, so it is still not ingrained in me that there’s this nice tradition that people do in December that involves buying tons and tons of gifts, so it never hits me that Christmas is coming until it’s kinda late anyway.

    By making everyone dinner, I get to have fun by cooking, it’s not expensive to create good food for a bunch of people, and food is something everyone can use and enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. You guys are right. Something thoughtful is in order, but probably nothing that can be bought. I like the cooking idea. Or maybe I’ll just stop being such a slob ๐Ÿ˜€

  33. nope, no gifts here either. But somehow I feel kind of sad about that. When we were dating, we did give gifts (not big ones, but like $50-$100), and they did mean something. Now, it’s just like “if you want that, charge it on the credit card”, but it’s kind of no fun either.

  34. Cheapster Bob says

    I took care of that entire problem by getting rid of my wife. ๐Ÿ™‚

    As for the Lexus commercial, my brother used to sell mercedes and the majority of his customers never asked how much the car cost. They just wrote a check and drove off.

    That commercial was targeted toward that type of buyer and if some middle class schmucks fell for it all the better.

  35. no gifts either. instead we fought like cats and dogs.

  36. Agree that it’s kinda’ weird anymore.

    We really don’t *need* anything, so it’s about *want*. But even then………..I honestly think I might have run out of things I *want*.

    I have a nice……….

    desktop computer
    laptop computer
    cell phone

    So let’s see what I got this year……..

    1.) Pants (great, but I’d buy those anyway)
    2.) Dumbells (A couple individual 25lbs ‘cuz I hate swappin’ plates anymore. This, too, is nice but I’ve also still got two $100 gift certs from xxx Sporting Goods, so I can buy them any time I want)
    3.) Bourne series DVD box set. (Nice, but I’ve seen the 1st 2, & could just rent the 3rd one for $1)
    4.) Arm sleeve for my new iPod Touch which I got from work. (Yes, work actually gave me the most expensive gift this year).

    Now, I didn’t buy anything recently ‘cuz I knew Christmas was coming. But hey…….I would’ve bought any of the above (except the Bourne DVDs) for myself anyway & it’s on the wife’s C/C which is the same as *MY* C/C, so what’s the difference???

    Ditto for the wife. I bought her a bunch of stuff she marked out of the Green Bay Packer’s Pro Shop catalog, so, since she picked it out……does it really matter?? (I did pick up salt/pepper shakers from there too that she didn’t ask for, but we could’ve shopped together & possibly been even more efficient???)

    So…….I get it (the concept)………..but I also *GET IT* (the holiday) & if I ever want to **GET ANY** ever again…… ๐Ÿ˜‰ ……..then I’d better continue to ***GET HER*** whatever she wants.


  37. Years ago my mother instituted a policy that all gifts had to be Made/Used/Recycled. We were all young kids at the time and comlained endlessly… until Christmas came. Somehow, it turned out wonderfully. Ever since, it’s been this sort of neat, special Christmas every year where the focus is not so much on the buying and more on “the thought.” Not all the gifts are amazing (although some are), but I’ve never really missed the iPod or the slacks I didn’t get, and watching someone really dig a cool gift you worked on for a month is a pretty special. It makes me chuckle, but I think my iron-fisted mother simply resented marketers telling her how Christmas would go so she made her own rules.

    As always, thanks for making the blog so interesting thoughtful!

  38. “xmasy Says: no gifts either. instead we fought like cats and dogs.”

    Ah! You celebrate Festivus. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Count me and Mrs. Drake in the camp of non gift-giving couples. Somehow for us it always turns out that money is a little tight around this time of year anyway. So instead of worrying about what we are going to buy for each other we try to come up with special together activities and acts of service to give to each other.

  39. uh, I think you meant to say “The Drakette” not “Mrs. Drake”

  40. Count my family (older parents, 2 adult children and 1 spouse) as chronically addicted to giving gifts! Every year we say we aren’t going to spend a lot and every year you can’t walk into the family room b/c the floor is overflowing with presents. It is kinda sick actually. However, as someone wrote above, the time it takes finding those perfect gifts shows how much you understand the person and appreciate those quirks that makes the gift you buy so perfect for them. Serious thought goes into every purchase. Whether it is something needed (like a heated mattress pad for a really cold apartment) or something we would never splurge for ourselves (like a beautiful necklace) – every gift shows you care about the person. And it is not like gifts are compensating for a lack of love. We all talk on the phone several times a week (or day) and are all very close. I think that we are such a supportive family, that it is also a way to say thank you for all of the advice/support/etc all year long. And, no, you don’t need gifts to do that – but it is really fun – both giving and receiving! An interesting note is that my sister is now pregnant, so next year there will be a child (baby) at Christmas. I am sure that the adults will be receiving less and the baby more. I just hope s/he doesn’t grow up with the wrong impression about the “stuff” under the tree. It really is an entire week hanging out with each other that is most important…

  41. Easy way to do it:

    “Alright, so what was our budget again?”

    “$1000 for gifts.”

    “Excellent. We’ve bought for everyone and by doing most of the shopping on Amazon,, or Costco, we’ve got everyone covered for $300.”

    “What about my mom?”

    “Make that $350. We’ll get her that gift certificate.”

    “So then…”

    “$750 for us.”

    “Can we make that $500 and bank the rest?”


    Of course, I don’t think we spent a total of $500 on each other.

  42. I always thought this Christmas gift giving this was stupid. If I go shopping or browse the mall and see something my boyfriend would like, need, or look nice in I’ll just buy it and give it to him. It shows I appreciate and think about him year round… not just at the end of the freakin year. Why wait for a overblown holiday at the end of the year to give him the gift???

  43. Johny-boy, it’s not weird at all.
    Say what you want of Dave Ramsey, but he did at least get the ball rolling for me last year. My wife and I had a good conversation on where we want to be in 5 years. And to get there, we had to trim the fat.
    Typically, we’d spend 500-1K on each other. This year it was 0. I had a hard time sticking to the plan, as I had always bought her something big.
    But when we sat down for Christmas dinner and talked about the future, we both knew that it would be ok. And by next Christmas, I’ll be able to spend double on her and not have to pay on it till June.

  44. Baba Ghanoush says

    My wife and I don’t exchange gifts at Christmas. Instead, we try to plan some time together, away from the hectic extended family gatherings and traffic and shopping. Sometimes this involves spending money, sometimes not. This year we took a yoga class together and spent Christmas day together, without outside interruptions.

  45. Seems a tad apathetic… many people are using the old “im too busy” chesnut which often translates to “i can’t be bothered”… and physical gifts can be pretty hit and miss anyway…..

    Instead of something physical what about this – 2 years ago I saved a guy from choking & bleeding to death after he had shallow dived while drunk in a pool – he was blue and convulsing and the pool was a nice shade of pink, nobody else did squat and the ambulance never turned up (we were in Vanuatu).

    I can only attribute this to the 1st aid course I had taken a few months earlier – why not buy something like a basic 1st aid course? Minimal effort to find a course and use a credit card….

  46. I got my brother a copy of Quicken Deluxe. He got me a $50 international calling card to call our parents overseas. We love giving/receiving practical gifts.

    I didn’t exchange gifts with my BF; we never have in the 4 years we’ve been dating. We don’t even get each other bday gifts most of the time! A nice dinner is plenty enough for us.

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